Jan 21, 2020
Yosef Getachew ( @ygetachew2) serves as Program Director of the Media & Democracy Program at Common Cause. Prior to joining Common Cause, Yosef served as a Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge where he worked on a variety of technology and communications issues. His work has focused on broadband privacy, broadband access and affordability, and other consumer issues. Prior to joining Public Knowledge, Yosef worked as a law clerk for several technology and communications organizations including the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast, Facebook, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Yosef has also served as a Project Coordinator and Research Assistant for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Yosef received his J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. In law school, he was an Articles Editor for the
Federal Communications Law Journal. Yosef was born and raised in Washington D.C.
Common Cause, Media & Democracy Project
We Must Remedy Discrimination in Our Media System by Jessica J. González
(Common Dreams, 2019)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped Facebook last week saying the company shamefully, intentionally misleads voters by failing to remove political ads. Ms. Pelosi specifically called out Facebook’s capitalistic model as being antithetical to democracy and a fair election in 2020. She told reporters Thursday that Facebook only wants two things: continued tax cuts and weak antitrust enforcement.
Robocall-blocking service YouMail released a report last week finding a 22% increase in the number of robocalls placed in the U.S. since 2018. The company claims that Americans received nearly 18 robocalls per year in 2019. According to the company, overall, Americans have received some 100 billion robocalls over the last 2 years. At the end of December, President Trump signed a bi-partisan bill to reduce robocalls.
John Carlin, the former Chief of Staff to Robert Mueller reportedly told the Hill that the federal government isn’t doing enough to prevent election interference. Mr. Carlin says the federal government’s response to the 2016 attacks, including a $425 million spending bill to address election security, did not go far enough its ongoing effort to deal with the proliferation of ransomeware and what he termed a “here and present threat”
According to the National Institute of Justice’s own website, it awarded nearly $2 million to Purdue University to assign convicted offenders wearable devices and then monitor them remotely to determine the likelihood that they’ll commit future crimes. The NIJ claims the goal is to determine whether offenders should be permitted to re-enter society. But the results of the study could have significant implications for mass surveillance as the study, which calls for testing 250 randomly-selected offender participants, will likely unfairly target African American inmates since roughly 40% of the prison population is African American even though we comprise 13% of the total U.S. population.
The Washington City Paper reports that the number of “ghost guns” police discovered in 2019 grew by 25% compared to the year before, or to more than 115 ghost guns. DC Police found only 3 such guns in 2017. Ghost guns are guns made from materials that can’t be found by metal detectors, such as the plastic used to print 3D guns. The DC Council has proposed a bill that would ban some but not all 3D printed guns. Some officials are worried that legislation doesn’t encompass enough of the various types of ghost guns. DC officials report that ghost guns were used in 3 homicides in 2019.